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75 Ways to Draw More

by Trevor May | 24th April 2009 | Art Illustration | Comment on this

75 ways to draw more

This is something I should do. I love drawing, but can’t remember the last time I did it (except for on my son’s erasable drawing pad… Ok, I do that most days…).

Illustrator Michael Nobbs has put together a little booklet with 75 light-hearted ideas on how to get yourself to draw more. You can print it out for free or order a signed copy from his website. (via Drawn)

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Henry Hatsworth Concept Artwork

by Trevor May | 21st April 2009 | Art Video games | Comment on this

Henry Hatsworth Concept Art

Offworld have just begun a new series of posts around the production art of video games entitled Concept Album and I’ve just been thumbing through the first of them — an extensive three-page collection of concept artwork for the Nintendo DS platform-puzzler Henry Hatsworth.

I always love to see the creative that eventually evolves to become a video game, animated feature, theme park attraction or motion picture. This one I find particularly interesting as, ultimately, it’s all going to be crammed into a screen no wider than two and half inches!

Be sure to check out Henry Hatsworth Art Director Jay Epperson’s own blog for more sketches and art. And here’s the official game site.

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Happy 20th Birthday, Nintendo Game Boy

by Trevor May | 21st April 2009 | Gadgets Retro Toys Video games | 1 comment

Nintendo Game Boy

As incredible as it sounds, the Nintendo Game Boy is 20 years old today!

The now iconic hand-held video game console was launched in Japan on 21st April 1989 as the spiritual successor to Nintendo’s Game & Watch line. The console, which went on to sell nearly 119 million units worldwide, was released to the US a few months later in August and to the UK and Europe the following year.

Bundled with it was, of course, a copy of Tetris but it was neither that, nor Super Mario Bros nor any of the big-selling titles that left a lasting impression with me — possibly because it’s one of the few video games I’ve actually completed that honour goes to Final Fantasy Legend.

Final Fantasy Legend was a western port of the Japanese RPG Makai Tōshi Sa·Ga and, despite being made by Square, wasn’t a Final Fantasy game at all, merely re-badged to cash in on the popularity of the Final Fantasy series in the US. It was apparently enhanced and re-released for mobile phones in Japan in 2007 and the series also celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Too bad I traded mine in for a copy of Chase HQ… I don’t think I’m ever going to let my 13-year-old self live that down!

Still, at least I kept my copy of Solar Striker and if I ever lose that I’ll always have its theme tune permanently etched into my brain.

Update: Be sure to check out the Game Boy timeline over at Gizmodo.

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Free Realms: Sony’s Family-friendly MMORPG

by Trevor May | 19th April 2009 | Social Video games | Comment on this

Free Realms screen shot

I recently got my closed beta invite for Sony’s new family-friendly MMORPG Free Realms and spent half an hour this afternoon checking it out. Sadly I can’t say much more about it as I’m under NDA but (rather oddly) they encourage beta testers to post feedback to the forum — which happens to be entirely public!

As I suspected from the trailers and videos I’d seen it’s very much a World of Warcraft “Lite” — but not in a bad way. They’ve taken a clearly winning formula, cutesied the style and remarketed it for a younger audience, adding a multitude of minigames and making character classes something your can switch between as the need arises, rather than choosing just one.

Free Realms is and will be, as the name suggests, free to play although you can “upgrade” for a $4.99 monthly fee to access an assortment of extra features like the ability to have more than one character and members-only items and quests. The beta is currently PC-only but it’ll also be available on PS3 later in the year.

After checking out Sony’s PlayStation Home earlier in the year and feeling distinctly underwhelmed I’m very pleasantly surprised by what Free Realms has to offer. Maybe Sony should ditch the Home team and get these guys in instead.

If you’re on there, look me up. I’ve called my character, not entirely voluntarily I might add, Trevor Flamingtree (login required).

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Illustrator Richard Wilkinson

by Trevor May | 16th April 2009 | Books Illustration | Comment on this

richard wilkinson little brother illustration

Just stumbled across illustrator Richard Wilkinson‘s portfolio/blog via his speculative work for Head & Shoulders that Dustin posted on Think Faest.

He also did a number of superb illustrations for the Deluxe edition of Cory Doctorow’s latest novel Little Brother. If anyone has the £100 asking price spare I’d love to own a copy!

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Scarygirl: Nathan Jurevicius’ illustrated web-based platform game

by Trevor May | 15th April 2009 | Illustration Video games | Comment on this

scarygirl

Just been playing this adorable web-based platform come puzzle-ish adventure game Scarygirl. It’s absolutely wonderful despite it being a little buggy at present. Go check it out. It’s free too!

The game was produced by Touchmypixel and is based on distinctive artwork of Australian designer, artist and illustrator Nathan Jurevicius. You can find his vinyl toys over at Scarytoys.

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The Disneyland Hotel, 1964

by Trevor May | 13th April 2009 | Architecture Disney Photography | 3 comments

Disneyland Hotel

While browsing my feeds today (thanks Feedly!) I came across this wonderful photograph. Gorillas Don’t Blog wasn’t taken aback by it (“I wish there was more hotel and less blue sky”) but I sure was. The innocent simplicity of the nine-year-old Disneyland Hotel as it stood 45 years ago, surrounded by nothing but the odd southern California palm tree, is in very stark contrast to it’s present state.

If anyone has a photograph of the hotel from this very position today I’d love to see it.

The Disneyland Hotel was third party operated when it was built in October 1955, four months after the Disneyland park opened. Texan Millionaire Jack Wrather, probably most famous for being the producer of the TV show Lassie, financed and owned leased the property as Disney had run out of cash building the amusement park itself. It wasn’t until 1988 that The Walt Disney Company purchased it and the original tower pictured here was demolished in 1999 as part of the “Disneyland Resort” expansion which included the construction of California Adventure on what was Disneyland’s parking lot.

Be sure to check out the rest of the Gorillas Don’t Blog site for more superb vintage Disneyland pictures.

Update: Just had an email from Don Ballard, who has recently written a book on the Disneyland Hotel to tell me that the the Sierra Tower, the tower pictured here, wasn’t demolished. In fact it’s the only original building left standing.

“All of the original Hotel from 1955 – 1960 was demolished in 1999 to make way for Downtown Disney. This included all of the old two story Garden Villa Structures (my favorites), shopping areas, original restaurants, including the Monorail Cafe (my favorite), Travelport, Monorail Station, original Embassy and Magnolia Ballrooms and the Olympic Pool. To me, the Hotel lost most, if not all of its charm in 1999.”

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John K’s “Art of Spumco” book to be published in 2010

by Trevor May | 12th April 2009 | Animation Books | Comment on this

ren and stimpy

John Kricfalusi, creator of Ren and Stimpy and the Spumco animation studio, is currently putting together a book explaining how Spumco (and the “Spumco style”) came to be. The book will feature stories about the artists and animators that contributed along the way — “the definitive book of John’s work – from childhood through Ren and Stimpy to today” — hopefully it’ll contain plenty of artwork too!

The book is being published by PictureBox and edited by Amid Amidi (he’s the guy who produces Animation Blast magazine and who created the book on 50s animation style, Cartoon Modern) and John K has just posted a rough excerpt about his early interactions with Ralph Bakshi over at his blog.

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Bioshock 2 Gameplay Video

by Trevor May | 12th April 2009 | Video games | Comment on this

I still haven’t finished the original but I’m excited to see what they’re doing with the sequel. Set ten years after the original story you play as the last surviving (and first-built) Big Daddy, saving and protecting (or, optionally as before, harvesting) Little Sisters whilst being taunted by Big Sister, a child-snatching former Little Sister from the first game who now rules the abandoned underwater city of Rapture.

While the new game appears to function in much the same way as the plasmid-injecting first, Bioshock 2 will feature multi-player for the first time, something I’m rather sceptical of. The original was a really strong single player experience and strength lied in its simple, linear storytelling. How that can be translated to a multi-player game remains to be seen.

A video without captions is also available and here’s the teaser trailer from last year. Bioshock 2 is due for release in November 2009.

Also, Bioshock is being made into a Gore Verbinski-directed movie — I’m trying not to even think about that!

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Feedly: Making Google Reader Fun Again

by Trevor May | 10th April 2009 | Software | 2 comments

Feedly screenshot

I struggle to keep up with all of the feeds in my Google Reader account. All the sites I subscribe to are there because I enjoy them but when there’s 1000+ unread items it starts to feel a chore. So much so that I find myself firing up Reader less and less. So, what can you do?

The guys at Feedly think they have an answer. Feedly is a free Firefox browser plug-in that reformats the feeds from your Google Reader account into a nice, friendly, magazine-style format — and not in an “I’m a print magazine on screen” way either. It presents your unread items in a wonderfully digestible fashion, prioritising feeds you mark as favourite and laying the whole thing out into nice clean columns, topping it all off with images grabbed from the articles that it links to.

It also acts like a personal StumbleUpon. A little tab appears at the bottom of the screen urging you to click “next” taking you to pages that friends have recommended to you. If that isn’t enough it allows you to share and favourite stuff as you can through the Google interface, pulls in Twitter and checks FriendFeed to see if anyone else is talking about the article that you’re currently reading.

You can even use Ubiquity keyboard commands if you’re into that kind of thing.

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